While many home-based, part-time businesses don’t need business licenses, the larger your business grows, the more likely it is that your municipality or state will require you to obtain a business license. And if your small business has customers frequenting its location, or if it has employees, chances are very good that you’ll need a license.
As more and more people are starting home-based businesses, cities and states are becoming more strict about business licensing requirements.
Understanding Business Licenses
In general, a business license is a permit issued by local, state or federal government that allows a company or individual to run their business in the jurisdiction of the license-granting authority. License requirements can vary greatly among states and municipalities. Certain professions require specialized professional licenses, such as a law, medical, accounting, etc. practice. The more specialized licenses can be quite expensive.
There are a number of factors that influence what type and how many business licenses you may need. Location, number of employees and legal structure may dictate whether you business needs a license, and what kind is necessary.
How To Find Out What Permits I Need
To determine whether your small business needs a business license, contact your local municipal government and your local Chamber of Commerce. The municipal government can help you quickly determine whether your business is large enough to need a license, and help you resolve whether your small business location is compliant with local zoning laws. Your local Chamber of Commerce can help you determine if any other professional licenses are necessary.
The Small Business Administration has a helpful tool on its website that can help you determine what type of business license you may need. The following links can also help residents of all 50 states determine what type and how many licenses they may need:
California – http://www.calgold.ca.gov/
Colorado – http://www.colorado.gov/
Connecticut – http://www.ct-clic.com/.
Indiana – http://www.state.in.us/ai/licensing/.
Kansas – http://www.kansas.gov/services/
Kentucky – http://sos.ky.gov/business/onestop.htm
Louisiana – http://www.sos.la.gov/tabid/98/Default.aspx
Maryland – http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/tralicen.html.
Minnesota – http://www.license.mn.gov/
Missouri – http://www.business.mo.gov/register.asp
Montana – http://mt.gov/dli/bsd/index.asp
New Hampshire – http://www.nh.gov/business/doingbusiness.html
New Jersey – http://www.nj.gov/njbusiness/licenses/
New Mexico – http://www.rld.state.nm.us/index.html.
New York – http://www.nys-permits.org/.
North Carolina – http://www.nccommerce.com/en/BusinessServices/StartYourBusiness.
North Dakota – http://www.nd.gov/businessreg/license/index.html
Oklahoma – http://www.okonestop.com/.
Oregon – http://licenseinfo.oregon.gov/
South Carolina – http://sc.gov/business/Pages/LICENSESANDPERMITSBUSINESS.aspx
South Dakota – http://www.sdreadytowork.com/dbisd/startup/step8.asp.
Vermont – http://www.vermont.gov/portal/business/
Virginia – https://apps.cao.virginia.gov/IDC/index.html
Washington – http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/
Wyoming – http://plboards.state.wy.us/.
Other Points To Consider
Once you get your business license, be sure to keep copies of it in a safe place. Also, be aware of any expiration date on the license and be sure to renew it in time so you can avoid paying fines or penalties.
Another thing small business owners should be cognizant of are requirements about the posting and display of business licenses. Some businesses are required by municipal, state and federal law to post their license or licenses in a prominent spot in their business. Be sure to comply with this rule if it applies to your company.
If you decide to expand or relocate your business, be sure to check regulations to see if you need new or additional business licenses.